Eye on the Opposition: Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool (28.10.2016)

Written by Jack Pierce

Here with his regular look ahead, Jack Pierce considers the impact Jurgen Klopp has had, and just how Palace can target his Liverpool side.

Benteke Bournemouth

In a week when questions are being asked as to whether football has evolved beyond Jose Mourinho and even pre-season golden boy, Pep Guardiola, is being harangued by the press; one man remains the evident darling of the media. Jurgen Klopp.

The German has been manager at Liverpool for just over a year now but his novelty hasn't waned to the point that journalists aren't still in awe of his charm, tactical nous and willingness to provide a good soundbite. You would think he's led Liverpool to silverware in his first year and that they are currently light years ahead in the league this season. They haven't and they're not but that's not say the future isn't bright for Klopp, his Liverpool side and and a set of fans that are desperate for the glory days of the last generation to return to Anfield.

Some of their performances this season have indicated that they are ready to be taken seriously as title challengers. Away at Stamford Bridge and The Emirates, wins saw them earn six, almost unexpected, points and while they did slip up at Burnley earlier in the season, they've remained unbeaten since their defeat at Turf Moor. Currently in third place, but level on points with Manchester City and Arsenal, Saturday will surely pose us with the most difficult fixture we've had this so far this season.

If there is an area that Pardew et al do think there's room to exploit, the Liverpool back line may be it. While Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip have looked fairly steady together, the team's notorious high press can sometimes leave the centre back pairing exposed, especially against quick, counter attacking sides.

Enter Wilf and co.

The move of James Milner to left back has worked very nicely for Klopp but you would hope that between Wilf and Andros Townsend, there's enough trickery to pose the former England man a problem or two during the 90 minutes too. Milner saw red back in March and if the wingers do get the better of him on Saturday, it's possible he might be making the walk to the corner of the pitch before the final whistle again.

There's no denying that Liverpool are very impressive moving forward. The likes of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana are playing close to their maximum and have posed questions that almost all opponents have been unable to answer. Scott Dann's anticipated return to the Palace side could not be timed better; his anticipation and organisational skills will be vital if Palace are to earn anything come 7.20pm-ish on Saturday.

One man sure to want to prove his value to Palace in view of Saturday's opposition is our number 17. It's less than 18 months since he was heralded as an important signing for Liverpool moving ahead but fast forward to now, it's Palace that Christian Benteke is leading the line for. Whether it was a clash of personalities or a conflict of styles, Benteke was never the man for Klopp and despite never performing badly for his then new manager, it was no surprise that Benteke was moved on in the summer by a manager who wished for a more fluid attacking approach which made the target man type that you might label the Belgian with redundant.

There's no need to mention the potential of Benteke possibly haunting his former employer come Saturday night but you and I both know there'll be no Palace meltdown should Benteke score this winner this time around.

Palace vs Liverpool has, in view of our rather decent run of results against them since promotion, become somewhat of a stand out fixture and with the skipper back as well as hopefully Punch, we should hopefully give Liverpool one of their toughest games of the season up to this point.

Whatever the result though, just promise me that there'll be no petitions this time.


Jack writes the Eye on the Opposition piece for FYP every week. You can follow him on Twitter.